Saturday night collision takes the life of a popular teen who had just graduated from Dover High
Zachary Tyler Rogers is being remembered as a fun-loving young man who none the less was always looking for ways to help others.
Rogers, 18, was one of two people killed in a two-car collision Saturday night near his home in Marydel, three days after he received his diploma from Dover High School.
Rogers was leaving the town with two passengers, Avianna Walker-Lane, 17, and Mikeshia A. Stewart, when their car was hit head-on by another vehicle, driven by Estanislao Lopez-Berduo, 27, of Marydel.
Rogers and Lopez-Berduo both were pronounced dead at the scene; Walker-Lane, who graduated with Rogers and Stewart, a former student at Dover High, were injured.
‘I knew something had happened’
Rogers had lived with his family members Charles and Nancy Baynum, and later his grandmother, Nancy Williams, since the death of his parents more than a dozen years ago.
“He just got along with everybody,” Baynum said. “He never got into trouble and there wasn’t anyone who knew him who didn’t like him.”
Dover High School Principal for Administration Dr. Evelyn Edney, who handed Rogers and Walker-Lane their diplomas last week, said school staff members were devastated by the news.
With the end of the school year, Dover High’s halls were empty, except for teachers packing in preparation for their move to the newly built school, scheduled to open in August.
“All we have here is staff, and we’re just here hugging each other,” Edney said.
Edney learned of the news Sunday morning via a flurry of text messages from the school’s resource officer. Delaware State Police investigating the crash had realized some of the victims might be students and were trying to find out what school they might have attended.
“He was just a fun-loving kid. On the last Senior Day, he went around shooting Silly String on everything,” Edney said.
“I told him, ‘I’m gonna get you, Zach.’”
Family members and friends were gathered Sunday night at the Marydel home Rogers shared with his grandmother and her partner, Richard Naylor.
Rogers, whose hobby included cutting hair, was looking forward to earning money working at Buffalo Wild Wings in Dover and saving up enough cash to go to school, Naylor said.
But that was in the future. That evening, Rogers visited home briefly to pack up some clothing in preparation for a Sunday after-graduation bus trip with a group of high school friends to the Six Flags Great Adventure theme park in New Jersey.
“He left, and three minutes later the sirens went off and we heard the ambulance,” Naylor said. “We didn’t know that he’d been in an accident.”
A knock on the door at 2:25 a.m. brought the news, he said.
“When I seen the detective and the two state police, I knew something had happened,” Naylor said.
The crash had occurred at 10:12 p.m. on Del. Route 8, said Delaware State Police spokesman Sgt. Paul Shavack.
Police have determined the 1999 Ford Escort driven by Lopez-Berduo was headed westbound on Route 8 when it crossed the median into the eastbound lanes, just west of Enss Road. The Ford hit Rogers’ 2000 Pontiac Sunfire, which was being driven toward Dover, Shavack said.
The preliminary investigation showed alcohol involvement on Lopez-Berduo’s part as a factor in the crash, Shavack said.
Walker-Lane and Stewart, both of Dover, were taken by helicopter to the Christiana Hospital’s trauma center, New Castle, for treatment of non-life-threatening injuries.
Less than a mile outside of Marydel, two crosses, one bearing a crucifix, the other with Roger’s senior photo thumbtacked to it, already had been set up on the roadside, adjacent to the edge of a cornfield. The memorial was decorated with stuffed animals, red roses and white lilies.
“It’s just so senseless, I don’t understand it,” said Cara Ramsey, of Dover, who had known Rogers since eighth grade. Ramsey and fiancé Marvin Otto Jr., had stopped briefly at the memorial, set up by Rogers’ family.
“He’d do anything he could for anybody,” she said tearfully.
Edney said the staff at Dover High will be working to help Rogers’ family
“The biggest thing is that we’ll make sure we’re there for his grandmother,” she said. “Several of us are going out to visit her and to let her know we’re here if she needs anything.”